New Preparations for Campus Safety

A.L.I.C.E.; Run, Hide, Fight; C.R.A.S.E; there are many different acronyms for ways to handle active intruder situations and determining which one is right for your school can be difficult. The start of this school year, we adopted A.L.I.C.E. ( Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). I attended a training 2-years ago, other staff attended C.R.A.S.E last year, and we looked into the FBI’s Run, Hide, Fight. Our local police department endorsed and taught A.L.I.C.E. to the local public schools and area businesses, so the decision was easier on which one to choose. How to implement and train became the bigger challenges.

Two years ago, we updated and reformed our Incident Command Team and in my two roles since then, I have lead that team. We spent a year writing our Emergency Operations Plan to meet new State and Federal guidelines and to include feedback from the Department of Homeland Security visit. After that, as we were deciding our procedures in an active intruder situation, the shooting happened in Parkland which hit home for many of our students, faculty, staff, families, and communities. There are many similarities between Majory Stoneham Douglas High School and Pinkerton Academy. Both schools have over 3,100 students and a campus with multiple buildings, one specifically for freshman. These similarities made a lasting impact with many of our people in a way that other incidents had not. Throughout the spring, members of the Incident Command Team, Campus Security, and Derry Police Department’s SRO met with students, faculty, and staff at different times to address security concerns.

From these meetings, a major takeaway was that many people just wanted to know what to do in one of these situations. Fire drills are easy: there is a predetermined path out of the building and alternate paths if one is blocked. We are required to do monthly drills and everyone knows what to do. Active intruder situations are different: there is not a “here is what you do” plan to follow each time because of the uniqueness each situation may present. From here, we decided on the A.L.I.C.E. training and began the school year with a 4-hour training on the second day when all faculty and staff were back on campus.

On a Friday morning, almost all of our nearly 600 employees went through the A.L.I.C.E. training. Derry Police Department led the intense 4-hour training. We heard gunshots in the hallways as they fired blanks, we were taught different ways that we could react in these situations and ran through four different scenarios. At the end of the day, the training was well worth it. Derry Police did an excellent job and our faculty and staff left feeling empowered should a situation arise on campus. There have been many conversations between faculty/staff and our SRO/security/administration about handling potential incidents by looking specifically at rooms and the best way to set them up. Faculty have shared the training with students and updated “hide in the corner” with a more effective response.

A fine line has to be walked with how much information is shared. We want everyone to be prepared in case of an emergency but we do not want all the details shared so that we would lose the safety and security of the plans. Over the coming months, we will conduct drills in new ways and practice what has been learned through the training.

A lot of time and work is still required but knowing we have completed the training is an important step in continuing to ensure that safety is our highest priority. If students, faculty, and staff do not feel safe, then the ultimate goal of learning cannot occur. If you have any questions about our training or process, feel free to reach out to me.


About The Author

Dr. Timothy Powers

Interim Headmaster, Pinkerton Academy

Dr. Powers began his career at Pinkerton in July 2010 as the Athletic Director. He was then named Dean of Students and Support Services in April 2016. Today, he serves as Pinkerton's Interim Headmaster. Dr. Powers has a passion for education and strives to make Pinkerton a fun and safe place to learn and teach each and every day.